Free Poker Chips, a Band, and a Mini Casino Tour

If the Pandemic cooperates, Phish will continue their 2021 4.0 tour into the Fall. Starting Aug. 13, the band plays Atlantic City, and then will be at Harveys Casino in Stateline, NV starting Aug. 31. The Fall tour ends with a Halloween run in Las Vegas.

Ask anybody and they know that I love gifiting creative items to unsuspecting people. Over the past 20 or so years, I’ve given away stickers, posters, buttons, stencils, and other fun items. The fist sticker I ever made was the “Creativity Begins Within” for 2000 Burning Man, and I gave them all away. I love the concept of “Free” espoused by the San Francisco Diggers, and Burning Man is onto something with the ideal of giving it for nothing in return.

Then there is the ancient concept of Dana, practiced for centuries, which can be about giving just to feel the goodness of the act while expecting nothing in return.

When I saw that u/churchisweird and his wife were giving away poker chips (with fun band quotes and show details) at all the Phish shows in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, I got excited. A few Phish subredditors had already asked about the Harveys shows in Stateline, but u/churchisweird and his wife weren’t going to the shows.

Phish redditor u/churchisweird and his wife designed some great chips to give away at 7 different Phish shows! I was inspired to join in on the giveaway fun, and made two more sets for the Harveys NV shows.

I DMd him, told him I loved his idea, and said I’d give away chips for Stateline/Harveys if he wanted to make any. We started chatting, and he told me that he actually bought the chips from an online company (Chiplab). He wouldn’t be making any for Harveys. Along with the chip-making site, he also shared a great Phish resource for word searching songs to get money-themed hits within Phish’s original and cover lyrics.

We both agreed that giving away something to the community we love to be part of was a great idea. The good vibes of the idea kept piling up for me, and I happened to have some free time to poke around on Chiplab. After some trial and error with their simple graphic design interface, I had two chip designs for the two-night run at Harveys. I made sure to use a color and some Phish lyric quotes that u/churchisweird hadn’t used, and I ordered several dozens to get printed for my own free giveaway.

The 2021 Phish Casino Tour poker chip giveaway is complete! Now phans can possibly snag a chip from every run in a gambling town/city, and my two designs make 9 total chances to collect them all… if you’re lucky. 🙂

The chips were delivered this week, and are now ready to hand out to the lucky few in Stateline. I’m quite excited about this and hope that the shows don’t get postponed due to the current Delta wave of the Pandemic. My plan is to dress up as a Phish-themed croupier (ahem, a GROUPier, lol), with a vest, a bow tie, and my funny fish hats, and wander around a bit each day of the show to hand out some chips. I’ll take what’s left to the show each night.

The table is open and ready for play. Put your money where your mouth is and drop some goodness in your pocket. Time to feel that tingle that gifting gives, being present with each moment where a phan smiles, laughs, or wanders off a bit confused. Whatever happens, it’ll be all right….

Updated: Roger Waters and Friends Blew My Mind 31 Years Ago

Set up in what was literally a no man’s land months before (they even swept for landmines), I posed at a long remnant of the Berlin Wall with the official Roger Waters program (how did they make it so fast?) before going into the gates of the event.

I guess the Pandemic caused me to miss the 30th anniversary of Roger Waters performing the Wall in Berlin as promised. So I caught this year’s after seeing a post up on the Internet. I would say this was one of the craziest live music experiences I’ve ever had. The fact that I had an actual ticket, mailed to a travel agent in Greenville, SC, helps make the whole thing feel more real.

Thank you, Richard Young, wherever you are!

I still have that program, along with the t-shirt (XL, doubt I’ll ever wear it again) and the paper mask hand-out they gave us to hold up at a point in the show. In good timing, I just visited back East and got to pull out my memorabilia from the show. My mom has always kept articles for me to read, so one of these photos has the clippings she took from the two local newspapers (both AP reports, but one was longer than the other).

I recently bought a used CD of the show, but must admit I haven’t watched the video in a while. After finding this link below, I got sucked into the amazing spectacle once again and watched it all the way through. This version of “Mother” is the go-to version I always listen to when the ear worm hits. And it is still quite powerful to hear the masses roar when the staged wall comes down.

After posting the stub on Facebook, I decided to write out the adventure that started when the Post Office delivered my subscription copy to Rolling Stone. Once the travel agent made that phone call to NYC (or it could have been London), everything worked out and we lived to tell the tale. I’ve lost touch with Virginia, the person I knew who, prior to this Berlin weekend, let me crash under her sink in a small dorm room in Innsbruck. I am glad she and her friend (cannot remember much about her) had the patience of a mountain to get through that crazy weekend!

This very lucky adventure all started with a subscription to Rolling Stone, where I read a short article about this concert. I knew someone from college who would be in Innsbruck, and she and a friend were down to go. I had no idea how to work out a way to get to the show, and that puzzle piece was found when my mom suggested I talk to a travel agent she knew. I think his name was Richard Young. He was a “let’s make it happen” person, so got on the phone with a ticket broker and literally lied his way into getting me 3 tickets for the event. He booked a hotel room in Berlin, early enough to get one of the last rooms available (1000s were sleeping in the parks and train stations the night of the concert). He even got us train tickets with reserved seats (the train was packed to the ceiling when it arrived in Berlin). I knew this show was going to be insane, so we got there early and grabbed a spot by a sound tower. Good thinking, since most of the crowd got pushed around on and off during the now free-for-all show. That was about 200,000 people! The two people with me were not used to going to shows, but understood the “do not move so we can go to the toilet and find the tower to get back together.” The sea of pushing scared them, but folks around us were so nice and helped protect them. The show was an insane spectacle, complete with a full marching band and dozens of “drones” building the wall. When the wall came down, the joy of the masses was powerful. We were exhausted afterwards and had to catch a train back to Innsbruck very early the coming morning. We walked over 100s of people sleeping in the train station to get to our train. We slept well that day back in quiet Innsbruck!

Stencil Nation: Flashback Radio Interview

Stencil Nation on Cross Currents (2009)
(Click link to access player)

I’m in the process of saying farewell to The book is officially out of print (Manic D Press has corrected me, stating that the fourth printing is still in print) and the website was designed (by Antonio Gomez) in the heady days when Adobe Flash was du jour. With the rise of mobile phones and HTML5 (and the whole responsive site mania), it is time to retire the Stencil Nation site and redirect to Stencil Archive (the mothership).

While backing up Stencil Nation one last time, I saw a random mp3 file on the top level of the site’s backend. I clicked listen and it was a Cross Currents interview I did while on the book tour. It was a great experience and it actually riled up a listener who felt that all public art was vandalism. Fun!

I guess I was worried about taking up too much memory back then. Good thing the cloud revolution caught up and now memory is practically infinite. The interview mp3 is on this site’s cloud, and WordPress even allows super easy linking via its “Add Media” button.

Here’s my original post about the interview:

Had a great bike ride over to the KALW studio near McClearen Park this morning and interviewed with Penny Nelson for Cross Currents. The engineer, a bike commuter, told me another route that sent me through the park and then down Mission St. in the Excelsior District. Found some stencils along that ride home! They posted the show early so here’s the goods. Fast forward in about 3 and a half minutes to hear my segment. About 10 minutes long total.

Copyright Yer Sh!t ??

Woe be the artist who doesn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Who would expect to have that song become a YouTube sensation, or that illustration to end on on the cover of a magazine? FaceBook and Google+, etc. may weasel in on your rights too, if you post things on there. After the success, what do you have if you haven’t covered your ass?

And did you co-create a work? Do you have a collaboration agreement with everyone else? If you have a project that becomes successful, © and ownership issues may become messy.

Then again, there is also Creative Commons, which allows for content sharing. I protect my content under ©©. This allows creative re-use, but not to make money from re-use. You can scroll to the bottom of this page and read all about it. Try to make money off of my content, and >:)

A funny video on © your music:

This is not legal advice btw. Need that? Ask a lawyer!


YouTube has become the great DJ in the cloud. Can’t quite remember that song you last heard in 1987? Find it on YouTube! Digging through the shaky, poor sounding live vids and other detritus can be a pain. But usually, good nuggets are easily unearthed  in a matter of minutes. Trading links is fun too, so here are some recent tunes I’m spinning in my video cloud DJ player:

CELL:15 Funkathon (video)

Here’s a YouTube of the band Action Jackson at CELLspace’s CELL:15 Funkathon Party. They were a great help, putting the “c” in community with their help repairing CELL’s stage, setting up all the extras, promoting the night, volunteering, and funking things out.

CELLtv: World Remix III (video)

August rolled around in 2001 and the SoundLab couldn’t pull off a third concert three months in a row. I had an idea: Israeli master musician Yair Dalal was going to be in the United States in September. I had several of his CDs and loved his music. I found his website and cold-emailed him with the proposal of playing World Remix at CELLspace. Dalal plays many instruments and fiercely upholds his beliefs in peace for all peoples through music. His family hails from Iraq, making him a Mizrahi (Eastern) Jew. He always plays with Muslim, Christian, whatever-religion musicians with no hint of animosity towards their beliefs. When the Oslo Peace Accords were signed, Dalal set up a multinational orchestra that played in celebration of the event.

He was perfect for World Remix!

This flyer was never printed, and only used online. I took this photo during a 1999 trip to Israel. The hamsa design was based upon a stencil I had created and cut out for Chales Gadeken’s 2000 Illumination Project. The hand-written Hebrew and Arabic was from Deborah Ben-Eliezer’s cousin Roy (the IDF taught him to be fluent in Arabic). The Hebrew text to the right was taken from Yair Dalal’s CD insert and speaks on music and peace.

As the SoundLab tried to craft a concert around him, Dalal waited a while to confirm the gig. I assume that he was looking for better money and a better hall to play in. He didn’t find one, mostly because the Bay Area didn’t really know him, his politics, and his music. I got the Jewish Voice for Peace involved with the project and let them sell cabaret-table tickets for a higher price. They also got to serve concessions to the tables and took all the profits. The SoundLab got the door.

I also got Judy Cohen, a friend of Deborah Ben-Eleizer (whose father is from Iraq and attended the concert) to perform a one-woman piece about a sexual experience in Tel Aviv. I had seen Yuri Lane beat box about a year prior in Oakland, so tracked him down and booked him as an opener too. He rocked the house and went on to book CELLspace for a one-man show that sold out, got extended and then toured. I think the African band approached us to perform, and they ended up being OK and running way too long! Dalal was impatient to go on early: “If I play late, they will fall asleep to my music!” Deborah hosted the event, bridging the gap from the Middle East to San Francisco. DJ Sep barely played due to the over booked night (my mistake) but she got paid and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

About 250 people attended and World Remix again proved to have a deeply diverse audience. Dalal was nothing but sweet and supportive of the event and the space. Jef Stott got Jim Santi Owen to play tabla with Dalal, adding a great layer onto what would’ve been a duet with Dalal and his amazing percussionist. The event was nothing but perfect in my mind. Everything worked out and came together with flawless satisfaction. We even had an amazing camera shoot of the whole thing, which is what was edited down for the segment on CELLtv.

The night was full of politics, which was great for World Remix. Dalal told stories of meeting Palestinian musicians who had their hands chopped off because they played secular music or played with Israelis. He preached peace with his music and between songs. This concert was held September 6, 2001. Five days after that the World Trade Centers in New York City crumbled to the ground. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the contrast that happened within a week’s time: the peace, love, and music of an Iraqi-Israeli and the war, hatred, and death of 9-11. There was a radical innocence at World Remix III, and it was lost a week later.

The wars, invasions, occupations, and stupidity of the coming years dispersed the World Remix project. Not until Pod suggested a Romani Remix in 2005, which Jef and I pulled off to mediocre effect, did we try to recapture the magic. World Remix III helped me find my center just before the wind got knocked out on September 11. Yair Dalal came back several times to the Bay Area to teach Eastern-Jewish music to the community and was an artist-in-residence for the Jewish Music Festival.

I’ll never forget that amazing night of music at CELLspace.

CELLtv: World Remix II (video)

Pod had the idea all along that the World Remix concert series would run often and have a political angle of some sort. With a serious lack of funds to produce the series, we still somehow managed to pull a second concert together in a short time. I always leave out the “246(i)” in the title of the series. Not sure why, but Pod put that in there to signify something having to do with culture and borders. Pod and I also developed a mission statement: 246(i) World Remix is “a new concert series emphasizing cross-cultural collaboration and active social context.” I have to remind myself that this was just before the 9-11 attacks, so Pod and I thought that we were doing something different here in San Francisco. And we were seriously trying to create change in the world.

I made this flyer art with a scan of a shirt I had bought in Israel (the background) and an oud from a CD insert. The right side of the flyer was intentionally pixelated to symbolize Lumin’s roots in the traditional and the digital.

World Remix II starred Lumin and featured Ledoh. We mixed together digi-Middle Eastern styles with East European vocals and Japanese butoh dance. I can’t remember who we brought in to be our political/grassroots guests, but we made a point to politicize World Remix and thus the people that came to the events. I was getting great feedback about World Remix. These were some of the most diverse audiences that CELLspace had ever seen. Before our eyes, we were really remixing things!

This concert came off quite easy due to the fact that Jef Stott was one-third of Lumin and a hard-working member of the SoundLab. Delphine Mae was dancing with Ledoh and a member of the SoundLab as well. All the other groups were connected to Lumin somehow, and so we had an smooth production. I recall about 250 people attended World Remix II, and the band (or most of them) got paid.

Once again, glad that Jonathan captured it all on video and put it on (I think it was him).

CELLtv: World Remix I (video)

“This is a critical moment in history for reinstituting the lauguage(s) of music as the primary mode of human interaction from neighborhood to global relations” – World Remix I statement

Ten years ago, Pod, Jef Stott, and I (along with 5-6 other folks form the CELL SoundLab), got the idea of creating a music series that, if anything, mixed genres and indigenous styles in a way that made people scratch their heads. So we mixed Cali-style Qawwali with beatbox/tabla improv for our first World Remix concert. Simran Gleason, Deborah Ben-Eliezer, Rob Penn, and Andrew “Kid Beyond” Chaikin also filled in many gaps for this first attempt at bringing different people together in CELLspace (probably the most amazing place in San Francisco for doing this).

I recall Jonathan Youtt as the man behind the video for this event. Nothing but appreciation for everyone who put this music series together (with almost NO BUDGET), including Meyer Sound for getting conned into loaning us an amazing PA system!

Spinning th’ Dixieland Jass, Mar. 3

I’ll be behind the laptop next Thursday, dropping some deep south beats just in time for Fat Tuesday….
It’s free so there’s no reason not to stop by 🙂

Join us for SpaceCRAFT
our monthly music and art show launching new works by CELLspace resident and guest artists.

Painting, sculpture, photography, and dance performances. Every first thursday of the month at 7:00pm

Live Music by
Magic Leaves
DJ HappyFeet

March 3rd
CELLspace Gallery
2050 Bryant SF CA
7pm till midnight

A Colorado Thanksgiving with Spearhead

This will be the third or fourth time the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew has opened up for Michael Franti and Spearhead’s Harvest Ball (I have a Fillmore poster from 2005’s Ball hanging in my room) and the second time they have flown the show to Colorado. BUT…. this is the first time they have flown out the WHOLE show, which includes the two pedal-powered crankies and the whole six-member cast! The family show is already sold out, so this should be a great adventure indeed (which I will probably blog about). Fly there, perform, fly back…. the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.


The harvest season is approaching and, in true tradition, Michael Franti, KBCO and AEG are set to present the 7th Annual Michael Franti & Spearhead Harvest Ball at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield (Denver), CO on Saturday, November 27th, 2010. Combining music, art and action, Michael Franti & Spearhead will perform two live shows in the spirit of sharing abundance and inspiring sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyles. Tickets go on sale Saturday, October 2nd at 10am and can be purchased by visting KBCO will hold a presale for interactive members on Friday, October 1st from 10am to 10pm. Please visit for details.

The early afternoon show will be a Family Matinee (SOLD OUT) with kids activities including local kids bands, puppet shows, organic food samples, a kids recycled costume show, contest and parade, eco-friendly painting and much more. The fun and games will be followed by a Michael Franti & Spearhead kids concert with Special Guests The Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, Jaden, and Conscious Carnival Games. The doors for the matinee show will open at 1:00 P.M. and the show will begin at 2:00 P.M. The evening show will be a harvest celebration like no other with Michael and the band performing songs from their new album The Sound of Sunshine and some surprises for the big kids, too! The doors for the evening show will open at 7:00 P.M. and the show will begin at 8:00P.M. The Harvest Ball will also include a food drive and all attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods to the shows.

NoMeansNo Take it to the Next Level

I feel sorry for the Canadian trio NoMeansNo. Backstage at Bottom of the Hill, which is outside where everyone was smoking, I sipped a beer and met a group of folks who are big fans of the band. They were all lamenting about the horrible technical problems NoMeansNo was having on this tour. Last night in Oakland, Bassist Rob Wright’s amp went out right at the top of the show. They took a 15 minute break to try to fix the problem. The story of drummer John Wright’s problem followed, which was a busted drum that had to be replaced for the night by an opening band’s piece. That happened in Oakland too.

I tried to encourage these big fans that maybe the show tonight in San Francisco would be perfect. No problems at all. An unease settled across several faces, and the subject changed. Before going into the opening number, Rob told the audience that “the gods are testing us!” Sure enough, his bass amp started going out at the beginning of the set. Frustration set in as they finally got the first song going on the third try. The aptly placed song was “Old,” which is what all the band’s equipment was feeling like at the current moment.
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